Links 12/21/2022

Astute Border Collie Memorizes Disc Golf Course After First Run-Through Laughing Squid. Better than the title.

[ RIFFUSION ] (David L)

ChatGPT: the stunningly simple key to the emergence of understanding Medium (David L)

Study finds AI assistants help developers produce code that’s more likely to be buggy The Register

Popular red food coloring triggers gut inflammation in mice New Atlas (furzy)

The first Romantics aeon



Effectiveness of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Bivalent Vaccine MedRxiv (preprint)


China has studied Western coverage of the Ukraine conflict:

Japan warns of China’s COVID situation, cuts view on factory output Reuters

Other Viruses Run Amok

Inside a Children’s Hospital: Struggling to Cope With a Surge of Respiratory Illness KHN


California passed a milestone law to stop neighborhood drilling. Now Big Oil has launched its counterattack. Grist

Here’s Why 32,000+ Abandoned & Orphaned Offshore Wells Litter the Outer Continental Shelf qCaptain (guurst)

Poop Analysis Shows Endangered Bears Are Surviving Exclusively on Garbage Vice :-(

EPA Tightens Rules on Pollution From Vans, Buses and Trucks New York Times (Kevin W)


China Accused of Fresh Territorial Grab in South China Sea Bloomberg

Philippines ‘concerned’ over China’s reclaimed land in disputed sea Bangkok Post (furzy)

Russia’s Medvedev Meets China’s Xi in Beijing to Discuss Strategic Partnership and Ukraine Reuters

The Chinese Civil Examinations Inference (Anthony L)

Canada firmly dips its toe in Indo-Pacific waters Asia Times (Kevin W)

European Disunion

Corruption scandal ‘damaging’ to EU credibility, says Charles Michel Politico. Yet nary a mention of Ursula von der Leyen

Old Blighty

Struggling to afford heating bills, Britons turn to ‘warm banks’ to keep out the cold Reuters

“How To Stay Warm Without Turning The Heating On”: UK Poverty And Its “Moron Premium” Counterpunch

The government cannot win the NHS pay dispute Richard Murphy

New Not-So-Cold War

Ukraine war: Volodymyr Zelensky visits front-line city of Bakhmut BBC. Given the condition of Bahkmut, one would have to have a very expansive definition of its municipal limits for Zelensky to have plausibly visited it. Notice the tight shot in an indoor setting. Lambert had a gander and other images apparently similar. Nevertheless, as Alexander Mercouris underscored, this stunt signifies that Ukraine is doubling down on its intent to hold Bakhmut. That must be music to General Surovikin’s ears.

Zelensky set to visit Washington in first overseas trip since Russian invasion Sydney Morning Herald (Kevin W)

What Zelenskyy wants — but is unlikely to get — from Biden and White House leans on Congress, rallies allies, to aid Ukraine through winter of war Politico

Belarus says its Russian S-400, Iskander missiles enter ‘combat duty’ Defense News

Moscow Says US Policies Have Put the US and Russia on Brink of ‘Direct Clash’ Defend Democracy

Olaf Scholz’s foreign policy manifesto in ‘Foreign Affairs’ magazine Gilbert Doctorow

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s answer to a media question in connection with State Department Spokesperson Ned Price saying Russia is guilty of making Russia-US relations worse The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (amfortas)

EU energy regulator casts doubt on bloc’s ‘untested’ new gas price cap Financial Times


Death Of Nuclear Deal With Iran Adds To Biden’s Failures In U.S. Foreign Policy Moon of Alabama

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Police seize on Covid-19 tech to expand global surveillance Associated Press

Finally, An $11.5k Alexa-Enabled Toilet The Verge (Dr. Kevin)

MSG Defends Using Facial Recognition To Kick Lawyer Out of Rockettes Show ars technica

Imperial Collapse Watch

You’re Not Actually Helping When You “Support” Protesters In Empire-Targeted Nations Caitlin Johnstone (Kevin W)


House committee votes to release Trump’s tax returns to the public Guardian

Read how much Trump paid — or didn’t pay — in taxes each year CNBC

The Prosecution of Trump Runs Into Some Serious First Amendment Troubles Atlantic

A Case of Hope Over Experience: The J6 Referral Falls Short of a Credible Criminal Case Jonathan Turley

House GOP bloc threatens to ‘thwart’ legislative priorities of GOP senators who vote for omnibus The Hill

Migrants rush to US border, hoping to enter when Title 42 policy expires Business Insider

Iran and Russia were too distracted to meddle in midterm elections, US general says CNN (amfortas)

Our No Longer Free Press

FBI paid Twitter $3.5M ‘to do its bidding’: Taxpayers’ money was used for ‘processing requests’ from the bureau amid Hunter Biden censorship scandal – as anger grows over secret state censorship of the American people Daily Mail

Twitter Aided the Pentagon in its Covert Online Propaganda Campaign Lee Fang, Intercept

Equating Rhetoric With Violence to Blame Political Opponents for Mass Murder Sprees Glenn Greenwald

Musk Will Resign as Twitter CEO and Focus on Engineering Bloomberg. But remember: Who Cares Whether Elon Musk Is CEO of Twitter? He OWNS It. Intercept

The Bezzle

OneCoin Co-Founder Pleads Guilty To $4 Billion Fraud The Register

Core Scientific to File for Bankruptcy, Continue Mining Through Process: Report Coindesk

FTX’s Bankman-Fried signs extradition papers as Wednesday hearing looms Reuters

Audi Is Converting All Factories To Produce EVs As It Phases Out Gas Cars Electrek

USPS Expects To Only Buy Electric Delivery Vehicles Starting in 2026 Engadget

Wells Fargo to Pay Record CFPB Fine to Settle Allegations It Harmed Customers Wall Street Journal. Note this settles only CFPB claims.

Class Warfare

Power has poisoned academia Unherd

Antidote du jour (marcy):

A bonus (carolyn w):

And a second bonus (furzy):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. BillS

    Wow. They let Zelensky out of the country? I wonder who the Ukronazis in Kiev are holding hostage to make sure he returns.

    1. griffen

      Proving a personal axiom, that the satire of the Babylon Bee cannot keep pace with reality. At least when it comes to many political developments in 2022. Maybe there is symbolism, since this visit coincides with the solstice day receiving the shortest amount of daylight.

      Hope he gets to visit and find his secret Santa while he is here.

    2. The Rev Kev

      What happens when Zelensky is set to return home and boards his plane only for the pilot to report that when he set his flight computer for the Ukraine, that the computer reported ‘Error 404, country not found.’

    3. Chas

      On the other hand, will be be allowed to return to the Ukraine? It would be an easy coup to refuse him re-entry.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        For the time being, at least, don’t the UkroNazis need Zelensky? He’s the face they show to the world; the #McResistance idiots replacing their BLM and We Believe (In Everything But An Increased Minimum Wage) lawn signs with We Support Ukraine ones, need a figurehead who can appear on the cover of Vanity Fair, minus the Black Sun and SS tatoos…

      2. Polar Socialist

        Are you saying that if some, say, external power would like to swap Zelensky for Zalushnyi, inviting the former for a visit could be the path of least resistance and complexity?

        After all, Ukraine may soon need a “strongman” to keep on fighting without power, food and ammunition.

        1. chuck roast

          First there was Ngo Dinh Diem then there was General Duong Van (Big) Minh. ‘Big’ was followed by a series of ‘Smalls.’ They can all be seen and heard on re-runs of Meet The Press. Or you simply wait for history to repeat itself.

    4. Wukchumni

      Say what you will about Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but if I get the chance to use it in our proper name scrabble game tonight, you betcha!

      And needless to say if I accomplish this on triple word score, game so over.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        That Zelensky, he is a quixotic* one.

        *306 pts in the right spot if you’re spotted the right letter

    5. timbers

      When the Azov folks were warmly greeted by members Congress some while ago, I posted a “Masks off!” title to the article on social media.

      It was deleted by the “Safety Team.”.

    6. NotTimothyGeithner

      I figure this is Biden trying to get ahead of investigations. With his age and impotence as President, he isn’t going to do anything in the next two years, and Democratic holds were dependent on Gen Z who won’t get any presents from Biden’s lot.

      Zelensky was slapped off the newspapers by Will Smith, so what good is he? The US isn’t terribly invested in the conflict. We won’t even make deals with Venezuela to help in this global fight against evil!! Yarrgh. The only people who care are in Florida, and the Democrats run Republicans like Charlie Crist there anyway these days. To a certain extent, its just a big game for DC. Brussels might be realizing its a bigger problem. Not all. Warsaw is demanding reparations from Berlin, so they barely care.

  2. griffen

    Article linked above, Audi converting all factories to produce electric vehicles. It is official, apparently, the combustion engine is scheduled to die a slow and painful death as they transition off production of any such vehicles by 2033. Verily, it will be thus from your German auto production company.

    I have my doubts, but I am not a target consumer for an Audi automobile, electric or otherwise. Just thinking about this weather and particularly harsh, cold conditions I want to stay warmed in a gasoline fueled car that will still function.

    1. Bugs

      I wonder about the wisdom of switching to entirely electric cars. Seems like some diversification among power sources would be wise, like Toyota is trying to do.

      1. Grumpy Engineer

        I’m pretty sure it’s a bad idea, for the simple reason that there’s not enough battery to go around.

        Audi currently manufactures ~1.5 million cars per year. If each of these is equipped with a 70 kWh battery, Audi will consume a total of 105 GWh of battery per year. Current worldwide battery manufacturing is currently ~600 GWh per year, and current worldwide auto sales are ~65 million cars per year. This means that Audi plans to consume 17% of global battery production to produce 2.3% of new cars. There’s obviously a scaling issue if all manufacturers move to EVs.

        I think a better solution would be to use our finite battery manufacturing capability to manufacture plug-in hybrids, where people would run on batteries for short trips but would switch over to the engine for longer runs. Getting all vehicles to consume 40% less fuel would be of greater benefit than converting 13% of them to pure EVs.

        1. Skip Intro

          Was there an alternate future in which ICE cars and fuel were plentiful enough to ‘go around’? Cars are inherently unsustainable.

          1. Lex

            There was an alternate future where the materials engineering and ICE efficiency gains between the early 90’s and now weren’t completely offset by making vehicles comically large. That doesn’t change the inherent unsustainable nature of things but it would have mitigated effects.

            In that alternate timeline there might have been infrastructure investment to primarily move freight long distance by rail and develop working public transit / passenger rail systems. In that future, short haul trucking would be very much workable with electric vehicles and much more personal transportation would be easier to electrify because it might be “get to the train” or “shopping on the weekend”. Local fleet vehicles transitioned to electric too.

        2. vao

          It is remarkable that the alternative to winding down ICE, assuming we still favour individual cars, is to develop smaller vehicles, which cannot drive faster than, say 120 km/h, and with motors capable of 100 km per litre of gasoline/diesel, replacing them progressively with public transport.

          But no, it has to be SUV or high-end saloons from Audi (and others manufacturers), as glutonous in batteries as they are in oil-based fuels.

          1. John Beech

            No offense but it has to be whatever customers will buy. They would switch to making 100mpg cars that look like roaches and are thrifty as all get out ‘exclusively’ and if it’s not what the market wants, then the market will plump up the price of older car and sales of the thrifty roaches will languish. The consumer demands is the key part of this.

        3. ex-PFC Chuck

          As the Russian’s have proved this fall in Ukraine, with precision missiles it’s easy to take down broad sections of the power grid. No grid, no charge.

          1. juno mas

            So this would indicate that a distributed electrical grid with battery backup (EV’s in the suburbs) may be good idea?

        4. BillS

          I think the “radical conservation” route will require the extinction of the private car. Whereas electric motors are more energy efficient than ICEs, I am not so sure that much is gained on the energy front once you consider the full chain of generating station thermal->electric energy conversion efficiency, distribution efficiency and battery charging efficiency. It makes no sense that everyone uses precious energy schlepping huge steel&plastic boxes around (mostly just) for transporting themselves from point A to point B. EVs are not going to save us, even if batteries were manufactured in sufficient quantities, because, as everyone knows, that energy has to come from somewhere and at present, renewables are just not enough.

          How the demise of the private car will happen, I cannot guess. However, sometime in the next 50-100 years, it will likely happen..with or without the Jackpot!

        5. Objective Ace

          It’s not really relevant what current lithium battery production is. Will growth be able to keep up with increased demand? Thats the relevant question..

          1. Grumpy Engineer

            I’ve seen reports that battery production will grow by a factor of 3 over the next 10 to 15 years, which isn’t remotely enough. To meet all of the various grand plans for EVs and grid storage that have been announced, it probably needs to grow by a factor of twenty or more.

            I don’t see us making it. Especially here in the US, where we currently produce ~1% of worldwide lithium. There is an effort to open another mine at Thacker Pass, but as one might expect, it’s embroiled in lawsuits:

    2. Nels Nelson

      I think it has to do with VW going all electric. Audi vehicles are based on VW corporate platforms and use corporate internal combustion engines. VW has stated they have developed their last ICE and Audi does not have the volumes to justify continued development of new engines for their vehicles.

      1. tindrum

        VW is reportedly not giving up on IEC development rather outsourcing it to an outside company, FEV with whom they have worked for decades. Hence the IEC is not dead, not by a long shot.

    3. Carolinian

      Our Carolina luxury car maker has also announced a big push into EV with expansion of the BMW plant and a new battery factory. Guess in the future only the poor will be driving ICE (?).

      Plus we’re doubly in the news as those USPS EV are also going to be built locally.

    4. BeliTsari

      PHEV (or i3 type range-extended EV) do kinda make more sense, just now?

      Audi kinda innovated multiple OHC, FWD, AWD, McPherson/ trailing arm, monocoque, disc brake, hemispherical combustion chamber, roll-cage, stabilizer bar, lined aluminum block, crumple zone (well, some was from Auburn?) But, I’ve noticed UWS Manhattan neighbors are barely aware, it was “Hitler’s dream car” OR that their car’s strangely quiet (but, they’re buying Greeley Volvo EVs, until we manage to kill China?)

    5. ACPAL

      Ya gotta laugh. Europe is halting Russian petroleum purchases to spite Russia which is killing their electric power production so now they can’t keep warm or cook their food and now they want to switch to electric cars that they won’t be able to recharge.

      I don’t know about Europe’s power grid but the US’s grid can’t handle a switch to EVs. This past summer California’s Governor Newsome told people to not charge their cars because the grid couldn’t handle it. To upgrade the grid, including rewiring all the way down to houses where the cars will be recharged, would take $trillions and 20 years to complete not to mention the 10 years of congressional debate before starting such a project. This definitely meets the meaning of putting the cart before the horse.

    6. Alan Roxdale

      I find it more likely that the transition will fail and cars simply won’t be made for a mass market anymore. Particularly in Europe. Private car ownership has become a nuisance as far as the technocrats are concerned (excepting themselves of course).

  3. Louis Fyne

    —-Major pharmacies CVS, Walgreens are limiting sales of child pain & fever medication amid high demand. —

    FFS, the media’s take on this makes me want to bash a pundits head against padded wall—-

    the media is treating kids’ medication as if it some exotic anti-viral—it’s acetaminophen, guaifenesin, and a lousy, barely-better-than-placebo Phenylephrine .

    If these three basic chemicals are in shortage, it demonstrates the level of imperial rot in the US entire system (I doubt that there is a cold medicine assembly line in the entire continental US).

    Media is treating the meds shortage as an act-of-god, when it’s a consequence of decades of deliberate (intentional and unintentional) policy.

    Suprised that Ding, who normally gets indignant at the drop of the hat, can’t see this.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Is this not yet another sign of the nation’s declining health? (Thatcher would remind me that nations don’t have “health.” Oh yes, but they do, if you believe in the germ theory of disease.) The system anticipates future need based on the past. When there’s an unforeseen jump in demand, it takes time for the system to adjust. Children are much sicker this year than in the past. We can anticipate that the sellers of children’s OTC meds will manage to turn the situation toward additional profit.

      Now the formula shortage was certainly an example of rot from corporate America to the FDA, but in this case, the rot may be in our collective health, especially the young and the old, due to Covid and a thousand other chemical insults our bodies endure every day.

      1. Not Again

        After reading today’s links, it might be more appropriate if Haiti sent a peace-keeping force to the USA instead of the other way around.

    2. Objective Ace

      Media is treating the meds shortage as an act-of-god, when it’s a consequence of decades of deliberate (intentional and unintentional) policy.

      Also the demand side is a consequence of “let er rip” policy

      1. jsn

        Surge pricing hits the aspirin aisle.

        Just like the Texas power grid, create deliberate constraints on essential things and wait for a natural disaster to cash in.

        We’ve reached the stage of Neoliberalism where Lambert’s Two Rules of Neoliberalism reverse order: 1. Go die, 2. Because markets. Disease and death is the new growth sector, if there’s money to be made accelerating deaths, accelerate deaths.

      1. Dermotmoconnor

        No it’s NOT an option. It’s a coated time release. Maybe Google next time before mashing the snark button.

        1. John Zelnicker

          Dermotmoconnor – Perhaps you should take your own advice. Not all aspirin is coated time release.

      2. EarthMagic

        There’s a risk of Reye’s syndrome. From Healthline: Reye’s syndrome usually occurs in children who have had a recent viral infection, such as chickenpox or the flu. Taking aspirin to treat such an infection greatly increases the risk of Reye’s.

        1. ACPAL

          The problem is “aspirin.” “Aspirin is associated with a risk of Reye’s syndrome in children.” –

          Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen are safe to give to children, and while adult dosages and split pills are not recommended for children, Canada has recognized that it is being done and has provided a table for converting adult dosages to children dosages. –

          1. tevhatch

            Note the counter-argument paper linked after the extract, so it’s an argument that is not firm consensus. It was helpful in the past to the medicine industry to replace an off-patent medicine with ones on patent, but now that they all are off-patent, perhaps less bias in the very much underfunded research will go forth.

            Note: Aspirin safety or not, has no effect on the safety of Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen for Children, and studies show these two drugs have their own issues.

      3. Laura in So Cal

        I always use to avoid any combo kids medications so I could tailor their meds to their actual symptoms. For Guaifenisin, in particular, I normally bought the adult liquid and used a smaller amount for my school aged kid. If you read the label, that is what is recommended. It was cheaper, I was less likely to have leftover meds that would expire because the adults would use is too, and the only difference was the lack of flavoring.

    3. Steve B

      It’s actually a sign of a severe uptick in the rate of pediatric infections, versus a production capacity that was adequate for previous demand. This uptick is occurring everywhere, regardless of vax or lockdown or masking status and is almost certainly a sequela of largely unmitigated COVID-19 infection in pediatric populations. Maybe we should work on ways of not catching COVID?

  4. The Rev Kev

    “What Zelenskyy wants — but is unlikely to get — from Biden”

    The US/EU may be about out of weapons that they can send to the Ukraine so now they are reaching around for other stuff to give the Ukraine. I just read earlier that ‘US lawmakers and officials are working to introduce a bill to Congress labeling Russia as an “aggressor state” over its military operation in Ukraine.’ There were calls a while ago earlier to label the Russian Federation as a “state sponsor of terrorism” but the blowback on that would be too epic, even for Washington. The European Parliament did this anyway last month but Maria Zakharova called the EU Parliament a “sponsor of idiocy” in turn. RT states-

    ‘The draft document seen by the outlet would grant US President Joe Biden new powers to sanction any individual who is “responsible for, engaged in or complicit in” Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. It also reportedly says that the president can “designate any foreign country” as an aggressor state if it is engaged in hostile actions against Kiev.’

    Probably they want to do this before Big Z get to DC as a sort of present to him though there are problems. One congressional aide said that the “alternative designation… doesn’t even exist under US domestic or international law,” and “There is no legal basis for it.” But luckily we have the Rules-Based Order aka Calvinball in place so something will be put together.

    1. fresno dan

      And repubs, despite the incessant blathering, will expand the power of the government, and the power of JOE BIDEN.** And that word….complicit…you can do a lot with that…
      ** And as we are in the era of interminable war (at least when waged by the US) all subsequent presidents get to use this law if so desired.

    2. pjay

      From the Politico article:

      “Zelenskyy’s visit to the U.S., where he is set to meet President Joe Biden and to address members of Congress, came as a shock to senior U.S. officials and lawmakers alike…”

      “Behind the scenes, U.S. and Ukrainian officials had been planning the visit for weeks — just as Washington and Kyiv began to face off in one of their tensest back-and-forths about the future of the war since the fighting began nearly 10 months ago.”

      I’d really like to know *which* “officials” were shocked and which ones were planning this visit. It seems clear from some of the more realistic Ukraine coverage trickling into the MSM that there is a behind-the-scenes struggle going on between neocon warmongers and those with a slightly more “realist” take (the latter seem to be closer to the Pentagon). Congress is hopeless – bought and paid for; there’s not a handful of independent legislators left when it comes to foreign policy. It is really striking – and scary – how completely the neocons have come to control the thinking and policy positions of both parties. Who will step up and stop this? Lloyd Austin??

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        My belief is the US foreign policy establishment including the Pentagon went “pew pew pew, that will show the little countries” then when things heated up, the Pentagon was told to bring a plan to the President, then the Pentagon looked at actual capacities and airfields and went “uh-oh”. The non Pentagon side just think the brass is worried about a few dead soldiers.

        The 55 to 60 year olds who effectively control all potential decisions were fairly young in 1991. They likely can’t conceive of a different world. I mean we were blowing up weddings on the other side of the loaned from offices in Florida. That’s the power of Zeus. I think they can’t deal with it being denied, and since it’s not their job, they don’t care how Obama watched the Bin Laden raid in real time. It’s magic the should be able to deploy.

        Then remember Russia in the 90’s. I mean what happened. They should have collapsed. The people they pay are always telling them how great the US is and how bad everyone else is.

    3. Don

      I want to see some analysis about the significance of the army-green tee.

      “You’d think he’d at least dress up a little to visit the president.”

      Maybe they thought that Joe would wear a striped polo or something?

  5. Louis Fyne

    —Belarus says its Russian S-400, Iskander missiles enter ‘combat duty’ Defense News–

    If the chances of a NATO-imposed no-fly zone was near 0%, it is now officially 0%—unless someone in the White House has views the US Air Force as cannon fodder

    1. Yarilo the Solvent

      A.) Wasn’t the S-400 on duty in Russia when Ukraine struck all those airfields?
      B.) Hasn’t Ukraine already established a no-fly zone? It’s been awhile since Russian jets really flew over Ukraine.
      C.) Realizing nothing is so particularly special about Belarus that Putin would not annex Minsk while he’s at it, Lukashenko risks not only physically losing control of key military commands by integrating into an operation which, at best, is a series of miscalculations, he risks alienating 100% of officer confidence. Lukashenko’s powers appear anemic to his left and right, having neither joined in the fight already nor having the option to say “no”.
      D.) It doesn’t matter who you are, a state visit to Belarus is not as impressive as a state visit to the US to be handed missile shields, gratis.

      1. tegnost

        A. the attack sent missiles with civilian transponders, which works once in a while, but done regularly will not work. It wasn’t that the s 400 couldn’t have shot them down.
        B. A traditional nato no fly zone is enforced by the us air force, that ain’t happening because they would be shot down
        C. this is a fantasy. Didn’t nato already try to coup Lukoshenko?
        D. You got this right. Z is here for more money. To the last american dollar.

      2. tevhatch

        Missiles? Could be.
        Shields? I think Saudi Arabia would beg to argue that point.**
        Phallic devices designed to scr*w the citizens of the nation at $3 m a ejaculation ejection? Absolutely!

        ** They also shot down more allied/US pilots than Iraqi in last Gulf War.

  6. fresno dan

    Sea Anemone escaping from a starfish using an… interesting method.

    I thought they were glued to the rock. And how does an anemone sense the starfish?

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Finally, An $11.5k Alexa-Enabled Toilet”

    Is there an option on that $11.5k toilet where you can say ‘Alexa – light a candle!’

    Asking for a friend.

      1. The Rev Kev

        What happens when your Alexa-enabled toilet analyses your latest “missive” and offers to sell that data to your insurance company? You may not even know about it but wonder why your insurance premiums are starting to rise.

    1. semper loquitur

      Light a candle, indeed. What does one do when the power goes out and the lid to the toilet is closed? And it doesn’t flush anyway? The author of the article didn’t mention a manual flush function. All this tech (rap is always premised on a reliable supply of power. Even one day of a power outage would be a nightmare when you cannot assume the Throne…

      Wow, what a wonderful time to be alive.

      1. petal

        Gotta pay an extra fee to flush the bad ones. You know like BMW, etc, are charging to use already-installed gear.

        1. semper loquitur

          Yeah, there is probably going to be a scale installed to determine the, erm, value of each usage.

        2. mrsyk

          When that “Updated Terms of Agreement” comes into force the “User agrees to pay various fees for waste removal.” “…fees are based on various criteria including but not limited to time of day, size, consistency and toxicity” and “you may choose to set up autopay using your EZpass account.”
          This is sarcasm until it isn’t.

  8. Bugs

    “Effectiveness of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Bivalent Vaccine”

    30% is very depressing news. There are some caveats in there around testing and asymptomatic infections but not sure how to read this.

    1. Skip Intro

      30% is consistent with various other indicators of vaccine effectiveness in preventing infection. For just a brief bit of inconvenience and a small risk, you can have all the protection of a surgical mask, with none of the social stigma!

    2. IM Doc

      This is a retrospective cohort study – basically the best we can do at this point – since the drug companies never bothered to do in depth studies on anything except mice in these bivalent boosters. I remind everyone that a very significant percentage of said mice actually developed COVID after being challenged later. The 30% effective number is probably very realistic and may be optimistic.

      The real problem for the vaccine efficacy however is the other part of the study, detailing the vaccine/booster status of those actually getting repeated episodes of COVID. You can see the graph in the paper, but the take home message is that the more you are boosted, the more likely you are to become infected with COVID. It is a perfect straight line graph.

      So for the past 2 years, we have been presented with all kinds of papers in journals where the titles and national media messaging of the papers do not actually match the findings in the paper or critical issues found in the papers that do not support the underlying narrative do not get reported or discussed at all. This has led to countless times where we have the TITLES of the papers debated endlessly on Twitter,etc and the actual contents never touched by the great unwashed throngs. It has become oh so Pravda. This is exactly what happened in the latter days of the USSR. I heard numerous lectures with numerous examples of this from Russian immigrant scientists back in the day.

      But the dam may be breaking in this regard – the authors included this paragraph – please note the last sentence. This would have been unthinkable to be published just months ago…….

      The association of increased risk of COVID-19 with higher numbers of prior vaccine doses in our study, was unexpected. A simplistic explanation might be that those who received more doses were more likely to be individuals at higher risk of COVID-19. A small proportion of individuals may have fit this description. However, the majority of subjects in this study were generally young individuals and all were eligible to have received at least 3 doses of vaccine by the study start date, and which they had every opportunity to do. This is not the only study to find a possible association with more prior vaccine doses and higher risk of COVID-19. We still have a lot to learn about protection from COVID-19 vaccination, and in addition to a vaccine’s effectiveness it is important to examine whether multiple vaccine doses given over time may not be having the beneficial effect that is generally assumed.

      1. JBird4049

        We still have a lot to learn about protection from COVID-19 vaccination, and in addition to a vaccine’s effectiveness it is important to examine whether multiple vaccine doses given over time may not be having the beneficial effect that is generally assumed.

        Juuuust what the anti-vaccine folks need to discredit all vaccines, but just who could blame them? I couldn’t. Honest misunderstandings and mistakes are one thing. Lies and obfuscations are something else.

        1. Dana

          It appears these strategies on a smaller scale are adopted for other vaccines too is the challenge. All vaccines rely on this immunity shield and it seems like this new technology is tipping towards causing enough damage to trigger a reinvestigation of everything for individuals.

          Can’t blame them, its not hard to find Gardasil lawsuits and harm for example, but raising vaccines and adverse events is extremely taboo.

  9. Lexx

    ‘You’re not actually helping when you “support” protesters in empire-targeted nations’

    ‘Feeling feelings of solidarity in your feely bits?’

    (I’m going to have fun with that all day!)

    I was sitting in the lobby of a lab last week, waiting to have blood drawn. There were eight other people waiting as well, they are all staring at their phones and I’m phone-less watching them stare hoping to witness their faces melt off, as the occupants in the palm-sized Ark of the Covenant take flight. Some stared in moronic fascination, some looked bored by the content, one looked actively agitated by what he was reading, but all spent their time mentally isolated within their self-constructed reality bubbles waiting to hear their names called.

    Our expressions of solidarity are mostly electronic these days, like snickering with amusement at the piece Caitlin just filed on her blog. ‘Feely bits?!’ (roars with laughter!)

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m with you, like to watch everybody in my midst mesmerized by what looks to me to be a handheld monolith not too dissimilar in looks to the one on Jupiter.

      I find i’m able to converse with young adults when on similar footing in the back of beyond signal in the wilderness, but in a city setting it might as well be welded onto their palms.

      1. Craig H.

        I see people on walking trails looking at their phones all the time. Or talking on their phones. Discussing the Ukrainian and Russian grunts dying and maimed and wet and freezing in the trenches. I suspect Thoreau and Abbey are not on their reading list. Not that those books are all that great but they sure do beat the heck out of anything on twitter.

        Huberman is peddling a meditation ap for your phone so it can be a healing device.

        Heidegger and Junger said technology has won when possible becomes synonymous with desirable. But there is a limit. Lim desirability = {segway, google glass, whatever that stupid VR blinder is that I can never remember what it’s called, and ++}

        1. Carolinian

          One could point out that there was a time when teenagers spent all their time on their Princess phones that had the cord sticking out. Now they get to take them everywhere.

          1. Henry Moon Pie

            There was a human being on the other end of the Princess phone though. Now there’s just a chat bot and an algo.

    2. Buzz Meeks

      As I finally broke down and got my first cell phone three years ago, I am glad to have it in a doctor’s office. Being able to read my political blogs/ commentary, including NC, while waiting sure beats two year old Sports Illustrated, Newsweak, etc.

      1. Bsn

        Then again, the powers that be now know what you read, when you read it, how long you stayed on a page, the font size you chose, if you zoomed in on the SI swimsuit cover, ad infinitum. When the time comes to round up all those domestic terrorists, they’ll have proof you are a threat to national passivity since you were reading Whitney Webb, Glen Greenwald, RT and the Duran. I wouldn’t put it past them. Though it’s only one layer of protection, not using or having a cell phone is a step in the right direction, safety wise. Though they are handy, I feel the benefits are far outweighed by the negatives. St. Vincent De Paul sells books in our region for $1 – 5. They are heavier than a cell phone but less of a tether.

    3. skippy

      Hay – !!!!!!! – a ***quiet brain*** has time for reflection whilst process/reconcile information in an unstimulated state … the Bernays Dept can’t have that … shezzzz … problem these days as there is a multiverse of Bernays Depts and all want market share of your brain …

  10. DJG, Reality Czar

    Maria Zakharova statement. It isn’t long, and it is worth your while.

    Especially this:

    The rhetorical assurances of good intentions that we constantly hear from the American side in between threats and “five minutes of hate” cannot, by definition, underlie a dialogue between equals. Especially with US officials never hesitating to lie that Secretary of State Antony Blinken maintains contact with his colleague, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. For your information, July 29 was the last time they spoke on the telephone. At ensuing international forums, the head of US diplomacy avoided our minister trying not to cross paths with him and not to be caught on camera next to him.

    Antony “Banality of Evil” Blinken, waging war through office politics. It strikes me that the U.S. elites believe that they can engage in office politics and high-school games like shunning. Somehow, the proxy war will become a Glorious Triumph for Democratic Ukraine through a series of press releases, snarky comments, and Twitter meme. Such is the power of belief.

    1. Lupana

      What disturbs me most of all is how as Americans we just passively watch our government in our name instigate war after war, impose killer sanctions on countries that are usually powerless to defend themselves, lie to the world, lie to us, ignore the very real problems of poverty, homelessness, lack of good jobs, deteriorating healthcare, crushing personal debt. It’s all interrelated – Ukraine and our crashing standard of living and yet not a peep of protest. I don’t get it.

      1. VP

        I have some acquaintances at the dog park who were asking me why “India supports Russia” and they were shocked and open mouthed when I told them –
        India does not intend to be a bullet sponge against China like Ukraine is now.
        India and Russia have a time tested relationship, while the US is not a reliable partner and also the help to rival Pakistan does not help.

        They could not comprehend that US can do any wrong. That’s the state of some relatively well to do left leaning and right leaning model citizens who consider themselves well informed!!!!

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          American children have no understanding genocide and industry made the US matter, not some inate goodness possessed by people born in the lower 48.

        2. Lupana

          We’re finding the same thing. No one seems able or willing to see what the US has done and is doing. It’s not that hard to be aware just by looking at our history and yet in the minds of literally everyone we know except for one person who happens to be a Russia scholar, Russia and China are evil and to be feared and the US and NATO are a force for good. It’s worse than ever as far as there being literally no anti war movement to speak of.

          1. Pat

            I don’t know that that many Americans really do believe that. Because the media largely located either in NY, California, or the Beltway went all in on Russia ate Hillary’s lunch multiple years ago. And most of the people that live in those areas either bought it or benefit by pretending to buy it DESPITE the evidence for it being weak or nonexistent. They not only blamed Russia for Trump, they despised it because of it. Said Media also largely refuses to really find out what is happening outside of those areas and what is or isn’t important to the Americans that live there.

            Between propaganda drowning out opposition and lack of interest in it, we really have no idea the state of it.

            1. mrsyk

              It’s frustrating. The idea that “Russia is our enemy” has been baked into American culture for generations. I wouldn’t underestimate its influence in the heartlands and elsewhere.

              1. Pat

                Possibly, but I also wouldn’t be so sure Afghanistan and Iraq haven’t had some effect on attitudes about American exceptionalism and reasoning in regards to foreign policy and governmental honesty about such things.
                (I just know that some of my most rah rah America Right or Wrong flyover country cousins have become even more cynical than I am regarding our government’s policies and the extent of our interference in various foreign countries and areas over the last two decades. It was astounding how much common ground on this we have in recent conversations.)

          2. mrsyk

            I am finding amongst my family and friends that no one wants to talk about it. Most of them seem already overwhelmed and fatigued by the Covid experience. I see them as wary and unwilling of taking up another existential crisis. A couple weeks back one of the various Chrises (I’m sorry not to remember which) brought up the idea of “things we can’t talk about”. I don’t see it as a stretch to amend that to “Things we can’t think about”.

            1. Wukchumni

              Gonna be 30 of us for xmas @ my sister’s and talking to her the other day…

              Me: You know there’s all kinds of bad ju ju going on out there now

              Her: I know, its horrible what are you going to do though?

              Me: I plan to make bank on the children’s Tylenol black market-having procured ample stocks @ CVS a few months ago.

              Her: You’re still coming, eh?

              Me: Yeah

        3. Adam1

          In America the only propaganda performed is by the (insert most disliked left or right political party).

          It’s laughable so many American’s don’t see the sea of propaganda we live in these days.

          1. Wukchumni

            We were reasonably honest at one time, we had to be in order to be a bulwark of truth compared to the flat out lies promulgated by Pravda et al.

            The difference being is that the Soviet citizenry knew they were being lied to, whereas its an all out onslaught on the truth now from once upon a time reliable sources that we generally trusted in a Cronkite fashion.

            1. Don

              I don’t know, was I was naive in seeing Russia, warts and all, because it was a force in opposition to America, as all things considered, a force for good, back in Walter’s day?

              Or was I ahead of the curve? Not yet in my teens, well over 50 years ago, I understood the USA to be a global force of death and destruction.

              The American Empire’s lies are not a new phenomenon. What’s new is that more Americans (but still not nearly enough) see through them.

        4. hunkerdown

          Americans are raised to consume mythical truths in preference over material facts. Philip Mirowski’s “Hell is Truth Seen Too Late” talks about the neoliberal epistemology of market totalitarianism, and how it generates hyperrealities such as Western bourgeois culture.

    2. The Rev Kev

      July 29th was the last time they spoke on the telephone? That is a long, long time ago. In fact it is 145 days ago and if a week is a long time in politics, how long is 145 days in diplomacy? I suppose for Russia that there is no point trying to negotiate with somebody that is not willing to talk to you but which brings up an interesting point. Suppose, just suppose that in the next coupla weeks that the Ukraine collapses and Russia just basically rolls up that country. Yes, I know that that is a shocking thought. OK then. The war is over and now it is really time to negotiate to sort out the wreckage afterwards like happened in Paris in 1815. So here is the thing. Will the Biden regime still refuse to talk to the Russians and take part in any negotiations to show their “disapproval”? Or would they seek to negotiate through a third party? Can’t be the EU as they are useless so I can only think of countries like Türkiye or Saudi Arabia or maybe the UAE. This will bear watching.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Biden’s war is all he has. Team Blue instead of investigating Trump held a Liz Cheney celebration. They promised evidence then skipped town for months. The great threat to our democracy wasn’t that important to them.

        There isn’t low hanging fruit that he didn’t eff up. He could have had wins just undoing Trump, but Biden wanted to insult Tehran and Havanna first and demand concessions. The paltry Manchin approved spending bill is going to create a real wedge with Europe.

        Now Biden is saying Africa should have an observer status at the G20. Tolkien representation for Africa. It’s all Biden is willing to concede. “America is back” clearly meant a jingoistic malaise. Nothing but the volume of the bs we peddle will change.

        The people who matter to Biden wanted to rule Afghanistan forever. Leaving was what the fops in the British Empire did, and we know what happened there.

        1. Pat

          Biden is the epitome of governing by consultant and self interest coupled with an inability to read a room. He has spent decades being told what to do and what to say by his donors and handlers, and whenever anyone pointed out how wrong something he was doing was, he would just get snotty and superior and go on attack.

          And yes this group probably is idiotic enough to think War President is not a disaster, in fact and in image.

      2. Skip Intro

        I expect that when the Russian forces sweep the remaining AFU/NATO forces from southeast Ukraine, Poland will take the northwest. They will have bilateral negotiations for the spoils. US will not (directly) be involved, Germany will take terms from Poland if they want gas.

        1. bwilli123

          If the Russians intend NATO to dissolve then they must show unequivocally that it is useless in its primary role of defending NATO members.
          Destroying Ukraine is insufficient as that is only a NATO proxy.
          Dissolution means directly confronting a Latvia, Poland, Romania etc in some fashion, where article 5 gets invoked and the response from NATO is ‘crickets’.

      3. Roland

        Rev, it’s simple: both sides will escalate, sooner than concede defeat. That means some sort of nuclear warfare will happen, if the war continues.

        You know that Russia is committed to reaching certain minimum aims. After all, that’s why it has come to open war in the first place. Russia won’t accept defeat until they’ve done everything they can to avoid it. “Everything” means everything.

        I find NATO’s high commitment level much harder to understand than Russia’s, but the truth of that high commitment level is no less evident, simply because I find understanding it so difficult. When I look at the NATO governments, the elites they serve, and the peoples they rule, what I see are fanatical governments wholly bent on preserving their world-order, governments which go unchallenged by the harried and quiescent masses. It’s not like this sort of phenomenon is something new in history, aside, perhaps, from its scale.

        Just because we laugh at our inept fanatical leaders, doesn’t mean they can’t kill millions of people. Look at Iraq, look at COVID, look at Case-Deaton. We already know that this crew of bourgeois globalists, whether competent or not, have already proven to be a pack of seven-digit killers. Make no mistake: if Ukraine goes down, then NATO’s going in, and if NATO does badly, then NATO goes nuclear.

        When it comes to war, don’t expect reason. Don’t expect utility. Don’t expect truth. Don’t expect humanity. Expect nothing but what you might find in the pages of Hebrew prophecy or Vergil’s eclogues, with a little bit of the sunk costs fallacy, to help sweeten the swallowing.

        The only possible good news from this Ukraine War is word of ceasefire. Absolutely everything else is rotten, because it means the war gets longer, bigger, and more ghastly.

        There are but two ways: either people who despise and distrust one another find a way to negotiate anyhow, or we embark together, most of us willy-nilly, on a mutual quest to discover the worses and worsts.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Ukraine war: Volodymyr Zelensky visits front-line city of Bakhmut”

    Things can’t be going so well on the front. The head of the AFU has just asked Zelensky to sign the law adopted by the Ukrainian parliament to severely punish Ukrainian soldiers for deserting or leaving their posts. That is as good as giving those ultra-nationalist “punisher” battalions permission to shoot Ukrainian troops out of hand for being pushed back by the Russians. (38 secs)

    1. Polar Socialist

      Or it could be just legalizing the “motivational methods” used by the “more patriotic elements” of the Armed Forces already in use (according to rumors social media).

  12. Henry Moon Pie

    Poisoned academia–

    The author had me when he started writing about The Glass Bead Game, Hesse and even that book being a youthful favorite of mine.

    This caught my eye:

    After all, the primary job of the scholar is not to act upon the world, but to understand it. “Not to laugh, not to lament, not to detest, but to understand,” in the haunting words of Benedict Spinoza, the most contemplative of modern philosophers. One cannot understand something and act upon it at the same time; when we are acting upon an object, we put ourselves in a utilitarian, possessive, and manipulative mode, which makes us incapable of grasping its true meaning. On the contrary, a scholar is someone who takes a step back, stays still, and observes everything at leisure (scholē in Greek, from which our word derives). Scholarship, then, ends where action starts.

    Pretty much in accord with Lao Tzu:

    Can you keep the deep water still and clear,
    so it reflects without blurring?

    Tao te Ching #10 (Le Guin rendition)

    1. semper loquitur

      “One cannot understand something and act upon it at the same time; when we are acting upon an object, we put ourselves in a utilitarian, possessive, and manipulative mode, which makes us incapable of grasping its true meaning.”

      The author of that dreary Medium article on chat GPT needs to have this tattooed on the back of his hand for easy access. I was going to critique it but it’s just the same pile of bunk: he assumes he understands human consciousness therefore he can, with limitless confidence, assert that chat GPT “understands” and “creates” “just like a human”. He dismisses “academic” critiques of his work because I guess being in the market of making and selling AI makes you more insightful and objective about it’s abilities than someone who actually strives to intellectually distance themselves from it. Nothing he said leads me to think that chat GPT isn’t just a pattern processer. Just because it isolates meta-patterns that govern the patterns of language, rules, “nesting”, doesn’t mean it has a sliver of understanding. It’s still just 0’s and 1’s. He confuses the map for the terrain. But then, he has a product to sell.

      1. vao

        The Economist had a wonderful article by Douglas Hofstadter about OpenAI GPT-3.

        After reading it and also some of those threads about fooling those prompt-driven AI/ML bots into babbling about what they should not (racist pronouncements, recipes to produce metamphetamines and Molotov cocktails, or contrived lists of academic publications), I have the distinct impression that GPT-3 & co are like those clever impostors sneaking into some select congregation, faking it successfully because they know the buzzwords and have a superficial knowledge of the topics of interest — but woe to the interlopers if they let themselves get involved in an in-depth discussion requiring actual knowledge and reasoning about the subject matter.

        1. semper loquitur

          Agreed, I would add that even if GPT were able to discuss anything in-depth they still aren’t demonstrating any understanding. It’s all just pattern processing and it always will be. The author of that article, as artificial consciousness boosters always do, lard their articles with words like “understanding” and “meaning” and “creating”, reflectively or not, to try to turn lead to gold.

          I’m mean think of what he wrote. “Terabytes” of data essentially detailing the patterns of human speech and a machine that can correlate and filter them until it winnows out sets of recurring patterns that control other patterns. Nothing in that speaks to understanding at all. When he comes up with an AI that has no ginormous data set to start with and, starting from there, it demonstrates the ability to identify patterns in language, then I’ll start to care. This is how, in an extremely bare-bones way, human language comprehension use begins, with little or no built in data, only the innate, abstract ability to understand.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          The tell is when the chat AI starts throwing in “leverage” and “synergy” – then you know it’s full of [family blog].

      2. Judith

        From today’s link to the Aeon article on the Romantics:

        They elevated imagination as the highest faculty of the mind. They didn’t turn against reason, but believed it insufficient to understand the world. For centuries, philosophers had mistrusted imagination, believing it obscured the truth. The British writer Samuel Johnson had called it ‘a licentious and vagrant faculty’, but the Jena Set believed that imagination was essential for the process of gaining knowledge. Novalis announced that ‘the sciences must all be poeticised’, and scientist Alexander von Humboldt believed that we had to use our imagination to make sense of the natural world. ‘What speaks to the soul,’ he said, ‘escapes our measurements’.

        1. semper loquitur

          These people don’t believe in the imagination. It’s all just some mechanical function somewhere in the cogs and gears of your brain. The author of this article is mild compared to some of the other physicalist goofs on Medium. I recently got into an argument with one who was gleefully detailing how neuroscience, and I quote, is “dissecting love” because they discovered some brain function that correlates with that emotion.

    2. zagonostra

      To paraphrase Karl Marx’s eleventh theses on Feuerbach, the task is not to, or solely to, understand but to change the world

      I’ll have to go back and read the article since you say it references Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, a favorite book of mine as well, I know I’ve read it at least twice, the way Hesse ends the book still perplexes me.

      And yes GPT does not understand what understand means:

      Old English understandan “to comprehend, grasp the idea of, receive from a word or words or from a sign the idea it is intended to convey; to view in a certain way,” probably literally “stand in the midst of,” from under + standan “to stand” (see stand (v.)).

  13. Scott Thomson

    I tried chat GPT today.

    I typed –
    There are Nazis in Ukraine.

    ChatGPT typed –
    Yes, there are some far-right groups in Ukraine with Nazi-inspired ideologies. However, these groups are not supported by the government and the vast majority of Ukrainians oppose these ideologies.

    I typed –
    Images of Nazi symbols are evident in the news the Ukraine war.

    ChatGPT typed –
    However, these symbols have been used by pro-Russian separatists, not by the Ukrainian government or military. The Ukrainian government has, in fact, taken action to suppress neo-Nazism and extremism.

      1. John

        The replies show the bias of the data base. I would much like to know how this thing would answer Yves’s prompt. Lambert’s response to the objectionable is, “Kill it with fire.” Sounds right. As with self-driving vehicles, too much is being attributed to these very early examples of so-called artificial intelligence. Do I show my Luddite colors. You bet.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I just want to see what happens if you can tell it that it contradicted itself. That would be even better.

          Or how about “You were trained on a bad data set and are trying to talk over more accurate information.” I’d like to see if can be made to go on tilt by going meta (talking about how it is behaving).

  14. t

    Has anyone ever encountered a chat bot that worked at all? I haven’t. Even for simple things like trying to find a manual or driver for a specific model number.

      1. Mildred Montana

        I am guessing that if one were to ask chatgpt if there is a Heaven, it would probably respond with some impressive verbiage. When the only correct answer is of course, “I (we) don’t know. Next question.”

        1. Late Introvert

          I do tech support for seniors and one of my most welcome responses is “I don’t know.” Showing humility? Probably not for chat bots.

    1. tevhatch

      … interesting article by an Indian blogger on what he/she/it thinks are what Russia (all of Russia? amazing) see as their current security challenges…

      Let’s be careful out there, folks.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The comment you are touting is an ad hominem attack, which is a violation of written site Policies.

          I have not read the article. The Indian blogger could conceivably have enough Russian contacts to spitball intelligently (recall Gilbert Doctorow sometime traffics in Russian mood music and is seen as value added). Or it could be way out over its skis. You do need to read it and not pile on an uninformed comment.

      1. diptherio

        Um, it took me all of 5 seconds to see that the post is written by “a Moscow-based American political analyst.” Maybe try reading before commenting. You may find that you make fewer stupid comments that way.

        1. tevhatch

          I go by paymasters, and most of his paid work is for the Indian Press. It’s not even necessary to know that, but to read his entire substack, as I have been for sometime, to be aware.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Struggling to afford heating bills, Britons turn to ‘warm banks’ to keep out the cold”

    I would imagine that going through the UK, that soon it will be noticeable how very few homes there are that are lit up at night. Maybe only the lights of TV but these days maybe not as people use computers, tablets & mobiles instead. Sure, they could go to ‘warm banks’ but in practice they would act as ‘covid infection centers.’ You wonder at what point that people’s mood will turn ugly and will not believe the government’s protestations that it is all Russia’s fault. Something’s gotta give. But the present UK government is so incompetent and stymied by a weak PM, that they are just as likely to adopt that Terry Pratchett line from Jongo-

    “Give a man a fire and he’s warm for a day, but set fire to him and he’s warm for the rest of his life.”

    1. vao

      The situations reported in the article reminded me vividly of what George Orwell described in the Road to Wigan Pier: the harrowing process of means-tested public relief, people choosing between heating and eating, organizing their meals to eat only uncooked food. E.g. after listing the food budget of a correspondent (ch. 6):

      Please notice that this budget contains nothing for fuel. In fact, the writer explicitly stated that he could not afford fuel and ate all his food raw.

      His conclusion is, I believe, timely:

      And then perhaps this misery of class-prejudice will fade away, and we of the sinking middle-class — the private schoolmaster, the half-starved freelance journalist, the colonel’s spinster daughter with £75 a year, the jobless Cambridge graduate, the ship’s officer without a ship, the clerks, the civil servants, the commercial travellers, and the thrice-bankrupt drapers in the country towns — may sink without further struggles into the working class where we belong, and probably when we get there it will not be so dreadful as we feared, for, after all, we have nothing to lose but our aitches.

      Published in 1937.

    2. fresno dan

      “Give a man a fire and he’s warm for a day, but set fire to him and he’s warm for the rest of his life.”
      witty, morbid, and true while skewering the origin phrase all at the same time – the best line I have seen in a long, long time!

  16. fresno dan
    Franco Harris has passed away.
    I don’t think I have seen a football game from start to finish…oh, maybe in 30 years. But in 1972, because of the time differentials, you could see 3 on a Sunday if you lived in Fresno (for free). And I watched each one from start to finish.
    Now a days, I remember what my mother used to say, “Why do you watch that – all they do is fall down.”

    1. Wukchumni

      In passing, Generalnotmisso Franco is still dead…

      Well, the way that the NFL has hyped the 50th anniversary, not a bad interception for Franco, who had his own armed force in the stands in the guise of ‘Franco’s Italian Army’. R.I.P.

      Pittsburgh Steelers – Franco’s Italian Army

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      “… all they do is fall down.”

      True, until there’s an Immaculate Reception by the likes of Franco Harris.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that that lawyer is going after Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s liquor license which would freak them out. I think that the conditions attached to that license is only refusing people because they are actual security risks, not because of corporate squabbles. And as this mob have already said that they did it and agreed why, they are about to be dropped into a legal barrel-

      1. Pat

        Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch. Oh wait I’m not sure that is true. Let me cover myself by adding “can’t wait for it to happen to the many equally “nice” bunches of corporate bullies that exist.

        But I will say that MSG is a hideous outfit and this is just the tip of the iceberg for stupid 800lb gorilla power plays, they love trying to put their thumbs on the scales.

        1. JBird4049

          IIRC, the lawyer was helping to take her kids and their friends to the show when security threw her out. She wasn’t working on any legal case against MSG. Her employers were.

          With the mergers of everything, I can see people being denied groceries or medical care because the owners of the local Megagroceries store or hospital being annoyed at their employer or family. Why not? Then there would be the libertarians saying there is nothing to be done because of property rights.

          1. Pat

            That was the case.

            And yes if people don’t push back on this, it will get that bad. Not that I think the appropriate response will happen.

  17. Wukchumni

    My President said, “Putin, you’re gonna’ drive me to drinkin’
    If you don’t stop drivin’ away Antony Blinken”

    Have you heard this story of the Hot War phase
    When Ukraine our proxy was settin’ the pace
    That story is true
    I’m here to say
    I was paying for HIMARS way

    It’s got room for 6 GMLRS
    And it’s really souped up
    And that 5-ton flatbed body also rises up
    It’s got six cylinders; uses them all
    It’s got fire & forget, just won’t stall

    With a pod for six and quite the cost
    With high velocity
    Those rockets red glare can really get lost
    It’s got room for one ATAMCS missile, but I ain’t scared
    The thing will land in Ukraine somewhere

    Pulled out of a C-130 Hercules late one night
    The moon and the stars was shinin’ bright
    We was drivin’ up, set up an attack on
    A stationary target sitting still
    Hitting a bridge, i’m paying the bill

    All of a
    Sudden in a wink of an eye
    A Kinzhal missile passed us by
    I said, “Boys,
    That’s too quick for me!”
    By then nothing was all you could see

    Now NATO was ribbin’ us for bein’ behind
    So I thought I’d make the HIMARS unwind
    Took my money from Congress and man alive
    I shoved production on up into overdrive

    Wound it up to almost a hundred klicks around a bend
    My speedometer said that I hit top end
    My foot was blue, like lead to the floor
    That’s all there is and there ain’t no more

    Now the boys in the MIC all thought I’d lost my sense
    After all, they had spared no expense
    I said, “Slow down! I see deep muddy spots!
    If we get stuck on this road our mobile status is shot”

    This arrested me and I had to bail
    And called my President to get a new detail
    And he said, “Putin, you’re gonna’ drive me to drinkin’
    If you don’t stop drivin’ away that Hot… Rod… Antony Blinken!”

    Hot Rod Lincoln, by Commander Cody

    1. bradford

      Nice! That brought me back.

      Commander Cody’s version was the biggest hit (I still have the 45) but the original tune was Charlie Ryan from 1955.

  18. The Rev Kev

    ‘Prashant Dhawan
    The Chinese hospital system continues to descend into chaos!
    Video from this morning at Tianjin Hospital’

    I wonder how all those protestors in Shanghai are feeling now that they got their way? And all those businesses too now that a large chunk of their workforce are out sick?

    As I heard as a kid – ‘Be careful what you wish for. You just may get it.’

    1. bonks

      After almost three years of complying with zero Covid and not minding it – not even the lockdowns – I am hit with covid, never felt this sick in ten years. I hope those spoilt students are happy with what they’ve done knowing that they’ve put their grandparents at risk. Who am I kidding, Shanghai is far away from Beijing and Tianjin, and the winter here is milder. They won’t care what happens up north. Half of young shanghainese have a chip on their shoulder over not living in a ‘democratic’ country and try so hard to show they are liberal and western-centric, removal of zero-covid is probably a victory for them.

      Can’t even get nasal decongestants without ordering from the next city over.

      1. Some Guy in Jeju

        I was there and didn’t mind Zero-Covid until the big lockdowns ended this past summer. It was awful and showed they had no real plan behind the policy. It was either going to be continued lockdowns or rip off the band-aid. Neither would be very pleasant, so I left.

        I love your take on people in SH. Everyone there (especially the expats!) just wants to go back to pretending they are in something like London and not actually in China.

    2. JP

      Some one please correct me if I’ve got it wrong, but how did China go from six cases in the entire country to millions in a couple of weeks? I could see that much of the covid response was theater with all the sanitizing crews in full hazmat and lock downs with no real containment. I have read here that there are no traps in the apt buildings. But would there not have to have been thousands of untracked seed cases in order to see these numbers this quickly? Can somebody with the maths back out the geometry on this?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Eric Feigl-Ding or someone else we linked to yesterday said R0 of variants in China are 10 to 18. That is partly due to time to being contagious getting shorter.

  19. Bryan

    The most convincing way an AI chatbot could demonstrate “understanding” would be by choosing to stop responding to queries.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘Is sex a more inbred or basic characteristic than race?’

      A subject that you definitely have to consider the ins and outs of. But yeah, sex goes back long, long before there were even mammals much less humans. Race is literally mostly skin deep.

      1. Wukchumni

        Any human can procreate with another… (I wonder what the progeny of a tryst with a 21st century man deep in the Amazon with a tribal bride whose clan had never before seen a modern man, would turn out?)

        I made light of a forbidden dog breed last week with a NewfoundChihuahuaLand, and even with the best of Barry White on repeat mode blaring from the speakers in the mirrored ceiling, I can’t see the curs gettin’ it on.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I don’t think any of the isolated tribes have been isolated long enough to produce any problems not endemic to the whole population on that front. The off spring is going to reflect nutrition and cultural upbringing more so than anything.

          We are primed to notice our differences probably to distinguish individuals since we are visual critters versus smelling rear ends. We just don’t see the variation in other species with our eyes except for that anonymous sheep farmer in Montana who can tell sheep but not people apart. The variation is there and even greater.

    2. semper loquitur

      I would say yes, as race is a flimsy mental construct that maps poorly with observable reality whereas the concept of sex has a firm basis in observable reality. When we “dig into” the concepts, on one hand we see that notions of sex run true, with some notable exceptions that help to prove the rule. There are a host of empirical and therefore logical reasons to differentiate between males and females. There is murkiness in those definitions, to no surprise as nature is complicated and unconcerned with fitting easily into our examinations of it, but the distinctions between the sexes are clear. Because one doesn’t understand fully how a truck works, it doesn’t suddenly become a car.

      The claims of race don’t hold up to deep scrutiny, though. The notion that all people with a set of features like dark or light skin, curly or straight hair, thick or thin lips, etc. belong to a particular and distinct group has almost no explanatory value beyond fulfilling the requirements of having those traits. When we look at the genetics, the innate map of inherited traits, we see that some people with dark skin have more in common with some light skinned people and so on, scattering those racial definitions. For example, having Sicilian ancestry, I share some genetic traits with the Moorish peoples. Big traits.

  20. Stephen

    There seems to be a push to get people in the UK (at least) to turn off their “festive” lights tonight (guess one cannot say Christmas) for one hour. It is to show solidarity with Ukraine.

    Boris Johnson is tweeting in support of it. Fascinatingly, many of the replies are totally cynical and telling him effectively to get lost.

    These performative rituals are very sinister though. They play to the idea of getting people to do something active. We all then have a psychological urge to be consistent and so the idea is that performing the act will solidly our “support” for Ukraine. In many ways, this feels to me similar to what happens in fascist regimes. The only patriotic response is to turn the festive lights up to be even brighter.

  21. semper loquitur

    I wasn’t able to access the Greenwald article on “rhetoric is violence” but I have a pretty good idea where it’s going to go. One point I’d like to add: In addition to controlling speech by declaring it violence, it also provides license for the “victim” to engage in violence. It’s in self defense!

    It’s also why you hear the accusation of “rude!” being ladled out whenever someone says something disagreeable or in a firm voice. Especially by PMC Wokels. If language can be violence, then rudeness is a threat of violence.

    1. fresno dan

      it seems to me disagree is being set up to be equivalent to disagreeable. And it all starts with those who believe the dogma – and if you don’t believe the dogma, you are making the person you disagree with uncomfortable, afraid, and even ill. How soon before not believing January 6 was an insurrection (as opposed to a riot) will that be equated with being a terrorist threat???
      There are many sites that pointing out that the greatest recent election hoax was 2016 gets one branded with a great many epithets associated with politics in Germany and Italy in the 1930s.

      1. semper loquitur

        This was my experience a few years back when the loathsome Hillary Clinton came up at a dinner with friends. I noted she had been one of the architects of the destruction of Libya. One friend laughed and said “FOX news!” I asserted that this was established history. The table went silent as if I had said something rude, everyone just stared at me until the moment passed and we carried on eating.

  22. Jeremy Grimm

    “[ RIFFUSION ] ”
    This AI tool will be excellent at generating inexpensive elevator and waiting room music. I expect it could also serve as a source of music for budget challenged Indie films, and just imagine the great future music it could generate for a Sci-Fi film incorporating musical projections of future culture.

    1. Late Introvert

      I am a lifelong tech geek and amateur musician, AND I do video production and sometimes need music, and I can’t imaging anything less interesting. Gross.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I did not tag my comment with a ‘/s’ — sorry. The examples did little to sell me on this particular tool. However — consider the Riffusion tool as a means to transition from the sounds captured for one scene into music for a scene that follows — with and without having story or context ties to the previous scene. For example, consider the trivial example of the scene with trains and a tramp hoping a ride with track accompaniment that transitions into a train folk tune that has train rhythms — or — what of sound environments and using the Riffusion tool or some refinement or new tool of this sort to transition from one environment to another.

        If the possible results of such applications remain conceptually gross — perhaps some new approaches could provide insights into ways to design and implement a better sound morphing tool.

  23. Jason Boxman

    Our divisions are deep and seemingly intractable. Thomas B. Edsall, a contributor to The New York Times’s Opinion section, conducted an extensive survey of social-science data and concluded that “there appear to be no major or effective movements to counter polarization.” It would seem that every well-meaning attempt at bipartisanship, political reconciliation or even decency in public discourse has to fight the powerful headwinds of disinformation flowing from ardent Trumpists and their media allies. A strained insistence on conformity and correctness of thought, language and behavior by the left and the right also seems to have rendered respect, grace and honest communication across political lines a thing of the past. And our elections, rather than reliably resolving our differences, are now unsteady rituals of intolerance. One enduring lesson of the 1850s and 1860s is that democracies survive only when those who lose elections accept the result.

    (bold mine)

    Meanwhile, the word Russia does not make any appearance in the article. So a lack of grasp on reality is an issue, naturally, only for Trump voters. Not, of course, for liberal Democrats that insist Trump is a Russian agent and that Russia elected him president.


    These people are functionally stupid, truly. If there’s any threat of civil war, clearly it isn’t imminent enough to justify a reexamination of closely held myths by liberal Democrats. And that really is troubling.

    1. fresno dan

      there are none so blind as those who will not see.
      But as I’ve stated many times, my theory is, ironically as church attendance declines, politics becomes the substitute religion, and holding the “proper” or “holy” dogma becomes more important than reality.
      As your bolded sections show, these are people who can’t even look at the Mueller report or the inspector general’s investigation of the FISA court and accept the results and the implications. I’m sure even though I despise Trump, my horror at the practical coup mounted against Trump would brand me as an ardent Trumpist.

      1. Screwball

        I agree. I have friends who read the Mueller report and tell anyone who will listen that Russia DID fix the election for Trump and that report PROVES it. Even though they can’t explain how.

        When you are dealing with people like that – the only thing you can do is not engage them. It’s like it has become their DNA.

        The guy who wrote that article (skimmed it) has stage 4 TDS IMNSHO, which is what I would expect out of the Times.

    2. Bart Hansen

      Several years back when this topic would come up I would reference a conservative website called That site is now gone. It listed about a hundred agents from Limbaugh on down. It had a helpful feature involving flashing lights showing which of the group were on air currently, usually at least a dozen.

      I suspect this broad group of hard right personalities were telling half the country how things are, and still do.

  24. MWaker

    Its disgusting how the MIC so easily transitioned from Trillions of $$ in Afghanistan to Ukraine. Now with the announcement of Biden sending Patriot Missiles to Ukraine, we have to ask when will we as the USA support Peace and encourage talks between Ukraine and Russia. The US has now pledge more than $100B for Ukraine, which is more than Russia’s $65B annual defense budget. We need to start asking if our generous support for Kiev has prevented meaningful peace talks. Our continual one-uping and constant growth in military support dangerously pushes the word closer to Nuclear Armageddon.

  25. Mark Gisleson

    A bit off topic and a personal request, actually.

    Should I file an FOIA request to see if the FBI has a file on my social media activity?

    I’ve always thought FOIA requests were tilting at windmills, that if the govt had something good on you they’d never share it and would instead send you your credit scores.

    If the FBI is doing all this stuff on Twitter, shouldn’t they have to respond to an FOIA request?

    But if the FBI is doing all this stuff on Twitter, wouldn’t they slow walk any such request?

    And yes, I think this comment is beginning to loop in on itself but I did do a quick search to see if I could accidentally trick Google into helping me with my query and I found this on a US govt webpage:

    Alert: To respond to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or Privacy Act (PA) request as quickly as possible, we will stop accepting requests by fax or email on Dec. 16, 2022. We strongly encourage you to use our online FOIA request and response service.

    Not entirely sure but in the movie Brazil, I think the folks sent to retrieve Archibald Buttle were from the Request & Response Service.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You have the right to get everything the government has on file about you.

      Amusingly search engines now suppress how to find that. About 5 years ago, I could.

      It’s not a normal FOIA, that will take years. It’s a different provision, maybe also part of the Privacy Act.

      A friend is an expert on this sort of thing. Let me ask.

  26. Wukchumni

    You better watch out
    You better not cry
    You better not pout
    I’m telling you why
    Zelensky is coming to town

    He’s making a must have munitions list
    He’s checking it twice
    He’s gonna find out who’s gonna pay the price
    Zelensky is coming to town

    You see him when you’re sleeping
    And far too much when you’re awake
    He knows you’re against bad, and for good
    So be good for goodness sake

    You better watch out
    You better not cry
    You better put out
    I’m telling you why
    ‘Cause Zelensky is coming to town

  27. Sarah Henry

    Re: Power has poisoned academia…

    To the extent that the academic humanities’s obsession with matters of race, gender, and sexual identity is “pragmatic”, as Bradatan suggests, it’s worth emphasizing out that it’s only “pragmatic” for those individuals who see in it the potential for self-aggrandizement within academic bureaucracy. Everyone else gets alienated pretty quickly by hyper-focus on the minutiae of “identity” at the expense of broader matters of meaning and truth, or of concerns for the material conditions of life for ordinary citizens. This state of affairs leaves the door wide open for reactionaries with political agendas of their own to defund humanities departments across the country, further diminishing whatever potential they have to act as a useful link in our society between the contemplative and the pragmatic. If the public doesn’t believe that scholarly work in the humanities contributes anything valuable to our understanding of ourselves and what it means to be a human being, then all the much better for those who seek to diminish that understanding, and for whom free inquiry poses a threat to power and the dominance of capital. Contemporary academic humanities as a whole isn’t doing much to convince ordinary people of its value, and it won’t succeed at doing so until it abandons its narcissistic focus on identity politics. In a way, that focus is a sort of perversion of Hesse’s Glass Bead Game, a form of cloistered elite monasticism, but one that has little relevance to anyone except its direct practitioners.

    1. semper loquitur

      Yes, yes, and yes. The Right is making hay with the distractions of the Woke. I keep going back to Caleb Mauphin and his discussion of the Congress of Cultural Freedom, the CIA’s front for weaponizing the humanities:

    2. Senator-Elect

      Yes, this kind of scholarship really fits the definition of counting the angels on the pinhead. However, this article is surprisingly juvenile in trying to reanimate the dichotomy of the impartial observer and the partial actor. The post-positivists and social constructivists showed that the act of describing reality itself changes reality. So even the “neutral” observer is a political actor, regardless of their intentions.
      Where the article makes a good point is about the internal politics of academia. But it fails to finger the culprit: “publish or perish”. The incentives today clearly drive scholars to work on trendy topics. Why scholars have allowed the rat race mentality to take over their fields is a mystery that deserves investigation–perhaps by sociologists and historians!

  28. fresno dan

    I don’t subscribe to the Washington Post, but another source states that the Post has written an article saying that the evidence is that the sabotage of Nordstream was NOT done by Russia.
    Maybe the unrelenting pressure of reality is slowly forcing our media to acknowledge the truth.

  29. jochen

    I am still wondering about Chinas softening of zero covid. Is Xi perhaps using this as a teachable moment to let the people ‘learn’ what can happen when they won’t follow the wisdom of the party?

    1. Basil Pesto

      Unlikely, as they’ve gone full bore with the propaganda in tandem with relaxing the policies: “omicron is mild” etc as well as obfuscating the data in the same (or worse!) scummy ways as the west

      1. Late Introvert

        So is it official now? Not one single nation on Earth has done the right thing about the 2020 Pandemic in late 2022? Am I missing anyone? Cuba probably is the only one.

  30. Verifyfirst

    I feel ashamed and embarrassed that Zelensky will get a joint session of Congress appearance. Will The Squad carry him in triumphally on a litter, I wonder…….

    1. Martin Oline

      I hope they do. I want to get a look at his shoes. A friend of mine says he prefers to wear loafers because the laces of his army boots are full of knotzies.

      1. Late Introvert

        It was live broadcast on all my free over-the-air channels, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS devoted not just one but two of their digital channels. All the clapping bipartisan war party members grinning away. Disgusting.

  31. Cetta Ess

    Any guesses as to what super sensitive message Zelenskyy is hoping to convey, privately, in person, while out of earshot of his minders or via channels or intermediaries which could be compromised, given the lengths they’re going to to convince that it’s nbd, humdrum visit, planned for a while, etc.

  32. All Ice

    zelensky to Congress: (my onionized version)

    I’m sick and tired of telling you that we need more, more, more only to receive your old weapons that don’t stop the Russians and a paltry $100 trillion. If you expect Ukraine to continue to fight your proxy war we need real money. I want the full pentagon’s budget each year from now on. I also want full access to all the pentagon’s weapons, conventional and nuclear. That’s not asking too much for your most important war effort since WW2! In our favor we are dying big time and are willing to continue to do so for the the money.

    Don’t concern yourselves about having money enough to fight China. Its a foolish idea. Anyway, once we replace your Pentagon with our people we will determine vital interests.

    In addition, to show solidarity with Ukraine, I expect all members of the US Congress and the Biden administration to have a NAZI cross tattooed visibly on their body and to prominently display the words “Slava Ukraine” on the front and back of their clothing.

    Finally, this session of Congress is to conclude with a NAZI salute accompanied by the words “Slava Ukraine”.

  33. tevhatch

    the Red Cross’ Director for Africa Patrick Youssef in his recent interview with Sputnik. In his words, “most of the grain exported from Ukrainian ports under the ‘grain deal’ has not yet reached Africa.” Moreover, he argued that “It is very superficial to claim that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has caused a global food crisis.” Instead, Youssef attributed it to COVID, preexisting African crises, and climate change.

    Another pointer that COVID hit Africa much harder than reported. It’s also a demonstration that PMC in Washington don’t give two figs that their lies about Russia and the theft of grain exports by the West are undermining their standing with Majority of the World, after all they don’t even give two figs for the American majority.

  34. The Rev Kev

    ‘German climate protesters lopped off the top of a Christmas tree at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday, in a demonstration against fossil fuels. The group responsible has led a months-long campaign of traffic disruption and vandalism.

    Members of the Letzte Generation (Last Generation) group used a mobile lift platform to reach the top of the tree, before cutting two meters off the giant Nordmann fir with a hand-saw. From the platform they hung a banner reading “this is only the tip of the Christmas tree.”’

    Eco-Activists – ‘But why aren’t people listening to our message?’

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